Forecasting January

By Adam Joseph

The equally fun and frustrating transfer window awaits us. After a long, impatient summer of scouring Twitter and any reliable transfer source out there the silly season is set to return for a month starting January 1st. Oh yes, the winter transfer window is only weeks away.

With impatience reminiscent of the summer, Manchester United fans wait with anticipation as they envision the miracle signing to arrive at Old Trafford to instantly propel the Red Devils to the next level the club is so seemingly close to.

It could be seen in the West Bromwich Albion fixture. A team so statistically and obviously dominant, but not showing that dominance at both ends. It seems Louis Van Gaal has fixed the glaring defensive issues, with less reliance on David De Gea than he’s ever felt in his time between the sticks in Manchester.

So in all likelihood there is no chance a defender is arriving until the summer at the earliest, when a world class partner for the increasingly impressive Chris “Michael” Smalling will be sought. It’s fair to say that man is not on the agenda for the winter window.

Midfielders a plenty have joined in the summer to put together an array of talent, so it’s not very likely the Schmidfield, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick will be joined by a new signing, despite Carrick’s long term absence due to an ankle injury picked up on England duty.

Attack is a whole different story though at Old Trafford. The club have struggled up front this season, scoring in spurts and going on droughts. It’s been somewhat farcical at times, but it was known at the end of the summer that depth was an issue for United.

Juan Mata has been inconsistent at times but brilliant, but his lack of pace symbolises the teams current struggles in the front line. The Wayne Rooney issue has been covered enough and does not need more discussion here.

Memphis’ struggles continue for his new club, but a lack of patience with his development and adjustment to a new league and lifestyle is hindering his progress as much as his own performances are at this point.

The problems United face in the forward area at the moment can be summed up at the moment by their current reliance on Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard. At 19 and 22 years old respectively, they should be rising stars in the team, not carrying the main burden of creativity and goals.

Eventually they are going to need to be rested, all of the forwards will. But with the current lack of depth in the area (and form, in Rooney’s case), the goals will continue to dry up. This point to one new arrival in the winter window at Old Trafford, and a poll conducted by this writer on Twitter indicated a pacey/versatile wideman is the preference among fans.

Some fans may unrealistically expect magic to happen, but it’s the January transfer period. Clubs are loathe to let players go midseason, and prices always tend to inflate even more than usual as a result.

Sadio Mane is a perfect example. Southampton’s number 10 has continued last season’s excellent displays with some stellar form so far this term, notching 3 goals and 4 assists in the Premier League so far this term.

The pacey dribbler from Senegal was a target of the club in the summer according to reports, and United may return for him when the window opens. There’s no doubt that his pace could add a new dimension to the right side of United’s attack. It’s not a question of whether he would be willing to come now, but what it would cost to recruit him. Is £30m worth spending? That is the question.

An alternative who also is used to the conditions of the Premier League is Riyad Mahrez. The versatile Algerian has had a brilliant campaign with 7 goals and 5 assists, which have been key to Leicester’s blistering start to the Premier League season.

Equally talented at scoring and creating, whilst comfortable playing across all positions in the forward line Mahrez is an intriguing addition for United fans. He’s burst onto the season with some outstanding and consistent performances, developing a knack for creating something out of nothing. Sounds like something Old Trafford needs at present.

Dream targets for United fans include the likes of Marco Reus or Felipe Anderson, particularly because their clubs don’t currently play in the Champions League. This gives fans the impression a deal is more likely. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Both clubs currently employing the players would do everything in their power to make sure they stay at the club, with their season’s very much tied into the performances of their attacking stars. It’s safe to say these are two deals very likely not to happen, particularly the German’s.

An intriguing possibility based on Van Gaal’s preference to build a young side for the future is Domenico Berardi. Who you might ask? He is a 21 year old rising star in the Serie A plying his trade for Sassuolo.

The Italian International scored 15 league goals in 32 appearances last seasonand would be a fascinating addition to the set up. He wouldn’t expect to start every game, and could develop alongside the rising stars in the Old Trafford frontline without hindering their own development.

All we know is we don’t really know anything at this point, unfortunately. Some Van Gaal signings (like Anthony Martial, the boy once labeled a waste of money) have been completely from left field. It wouldn’t surprise many if this happened again in January. That doesn’t mean it still isn’t fun to debate about though. Now we wait for January 1.

Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.

Follow him on twitter @adamjoseph_27

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